13 September 2014

Sketchbookery & other projects

It's been quite cool these past few days.  It went from 40 degrees (Celsius) to 12 degrees.  In a few days.  Crazy weather.  I guess I'm used to (or at least was hoping for) a more gradual transition.  Oh well.  

We went apple picking yesterday.  First time of the season.  We bagged up a nice 24 lbs of honeygolds and golden crisps (and a few Bartlett pears).  We were there around 3:30pm and by 4, we could hear the crickets chirping.  It was perfectly still except for the sounds of their Vesperal chanting.  What stillness and beauty.  

The kids played happily until closing time at 5.  Jumping from haystacks, playing in a giant corn pit, hopping on and off old tractors.  I felt badly for taking them home - as if I was taking them away from something so inherently good and precious.  

Right now I am working on a hat for little J.  With the cold weather practically knocking our door down, I'd best finish it this weekend.  She has requested a kitty hat.  A Hello Kitty hat I might add.  It's a joy to be able to make things for my babies.  My heart swells with satisfaction and joy when I see them walking around in something I made; a scarf, a hat, a little blanket.  :)  

Also, I have two owl hats in queue that a friend ordered.  I've just finished picking the colours, so I am excited to get started.  And of course, I have a few dishcloths left to finish.  They are an easy kind of time-filler, so I'm not really in a rush.  It's nice to have an array of yarn projects to choose from.  (That is little S's hand grabbing my hook in the yarn photo above... I couldn't resist!)  

I am sharing a book with D right now: "Everyday Saint and Other Stories".  Well, we are reading it at the same time, but not together.  Actually, as I recall, before we were married we used to do the same thing: pick a book and read it at the same time, but not together.  Then whenever we got together, we'd discuss it as we went along.  Now that we're married, you'd think we'd be able to read together!  It works out for us though like this.  D likes to go at his own pace and I just gobble books right up.  Anyhow, this book is such an encouraging read - heartening, inspiring.  I am happy we are sharing good books again.  :)  

My sketch this week is kind of wonky.  I didn't have my sketchbook handy, so I grabbed a piece of loose paper.  Then I had to tape it in my sketchbook.  Talk about improvised art.  Incidentally, the subject is kind of a mirror of my life right now.  I feel very much like a mother duck with her ducklings crowding around.  Such beautiful times that I am slowly starting to understand will not last.  It is a nostalgic thought that makes me hug them closer each time.  My sweet little ducklings.

UPDATE:  Here is that banana oat muffin recipe I promised last time.  I apologise for the format.  

(makes 10-12 muffins)

1 egg
2-3 bananas, mushed up
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups flour (feel free to use whole wheat if you like... I didn't have any on hand.)
1 cup oats
1/2 cup sugar or honey
2 tsp baking powder
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sunflower or coconut oil

brown sugar

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add eggs, oil, and butter.  Stir until well combined.  Add bananas and mix.  Add water slowly until achieve a more batter-like consistency (as opposed to doughy), but don't make it too runny.  (I think I added around 1/2 cup of water, but I'm not positive.)

Drop spoonfuls of batter into muffin cup liners.  Make sure enough batter to fill liner - at least 3/4 full or more.  Sprinkle brown sugar and oats on top.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees until done.  (I can't remember how long, but probably between 20-30 minutes.)

9 September 2014

Weekending and kitchenery

Last night, while I was snoring away, my sweet husband did the dishes.  I have learned over the years that I prefer this, his way of showing love, to all the diamonds and flowers in the world combined.  This is his love language, and I seriously lucked out.  So anyhow, I woke up this morning and my kitchen was spotless.  Bestill my heart.  

Our whole weekend was beautiful.  Full.  Sunny.  Lots of outdoors.  Kids running around, happily oblivious to their more basic needs (I speak of food).  Until a kind parent (incidentally not their own) offered a nibble for on the go.  There is a beauty to this rhythm.  One I hope to preserve!  Our scenic walks were pregnant with sounds of trickling water, rustling leaves, and the trit-trot of galloping children on their imaginary horses.  

Lots of cooking.  I don't know why since I'm not noted for weekend cooking unless we have company.  In fact, I try not to spend chunks of time in the kitchen on the weekend.  However, Saturday was a kitchen day.  So was today.  We made tons of food.  Enough for at least a few days of eating.  That's always fun.  I like to cook in spurts.  Makes life a little easier not having to cook meals every single day.  Leftovers are fine by me.  

Always, there's a little person popping through the kitchen to help.  Stir a pot of something, pour a little something in, knead, saute, you name it.  We made string beans with chunks of beef; fettucine in bechamel sauce with pieces of chicken peeping through (a perfect way to use up some leftover chicken...); baked chicken with potatoes and random veggies; kefta.  You get the point.  Lotsa food!  

Last night we made banana oatmeal muffins.  M stayed up until they were finished, and while I tucked him into bed he stated, "Mmm, they are smelling up the house!"  I will post the recipe as soon as I write it down.  (Gah, don't hold your breath!)  They were delicious!  Sent one to school with M.  His request.  D had some for breakfast.  So did everyone else.  :)

I can't believe it, but the leaves are actually changing already.  Must be all this cooler weather.  It sort of hits you like a brick wall: oh, fall is here!

4 September 2014

Sketchbookery & kitchen updates

I haven't been around here for a bit.  Haven't really been online too much.  Unplugged is the word.  I've been unplugged.  The beginning of school does that to me.  I need to focus on the kids and myself and our time together.  

Also, I haven't been bringing my camera with me.  At all.  Lovely trip to Michigan last weekend?  No camera.  Beautiful walk around Port Credit the other day?  Nope.  Swimming with the monkeys?  Nope.  I am hopeful that this can only get better from here...  Anyhow, you'll have to take my work for it that we have been busy.  Lots of cuddles, deep conversations, connecting, and vacuuming.  You heard that right.  My son likes to vacuum.  Loves it.  What 5 year old doesn't love a machine he can push around that makes tons of noise?  (That is a rhetorical question... don't shatter my illusion!)

We have put by some peaches, finally.  First time I've canned them without processing them.  I actually did one with just water (ie: no sugar added).  Curious to see how it turns out.  Our peaches were slightly on the ripe side so, while  I'm sure most other photos of preserved peaches look less mushy, ours do not.  They are positively delicious though.  I don't know how long they'll last.  Might try to get in one more round before throwing in the towel.  It'd be nice to make a peach pie or something in the middle of January.  A little summer nostalgia served with a wedge of sunshine.  

While I mull it over, I've decided to try my hand at pickles.  My plan is to start with just one jar to see how it turns out.  If D is convinced, we'll be canning cucumbers for a bit.  We eat a lot of pickles... in fact I have the weirdest craving for them right now!  (No.  I'm not pregnant.)

Farmer's markets are still bustling around here.  We enjoy walking around admiring some of the offerings.  The kids are always given a slice of fruit, or a little taste of whatever.  The hardier crops are making more of an appearance - more varieties of potatoes, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach.  

We made manacotti for the first time today.  We added chopped spinach and parsley from our garden.  That was special.  I didn't follow a recipe and I think I put too much cheddar.  It was very good though otherwise.  I'll tweak it a bit before I post it here.  Definitely a nice recipe to have on hand - not too time consuming, easily made the day before, and filling.  :) 

And now I come to the real reason for my post: a drawing!  Saving the best for last...

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

28 August 2014

Sketchbookery and early weekending

It's a bit of a blurry day as we rush around here getting things ready to leave tomorrow.  Also, since M starts school the day after we get back, I am desperately trying to finish the laundry, label his effects and make sure we're not missing anything (like markers for instance...).  And I need to get some grocery shopping done tonight.  Ah, the joys of travelling.  

On a brighter and happier side, the kids are finished washing the hall mirrors, one of the bathrooms is clean (hallelujah!), dinner is done simmering in the crockpot (chilli if you wondered) and I am popping in here to wish you a happy (early) long weekend!  

May your days be filled with many such cups.  And may your cups run over.

27 August 2014

Final days of summer

I am hearing everywhere how people are leaving their usual work by the wayside to embrace the final days of summer.  This is what is happening here too.  To such an extent in fact that I have neglected this space a little as well!  Also, I am not much in the habit of bringing my camera, so many times I have no photo mementoes.  I guess I'm just too busy living life these days to document it.  

Peaches are where we're at these days.  Ripe, fuzzy, juicy, peachy-smelling peaches.  We don't grow our own of course, at least not yet, but we do so love our Ontario farmer's market peaches!  

We got out to Rockpoint Conservation Area last weekend, which we really loved exploring.  It was a nice treat to spend time there with some dear friends as well.  Barbecuing in the park is always more fun with more!

Our balcony garden is actually not winding down like I expected.  No sir.  We will be starting up our fall radishes next week.  Also hoping to get in some garlic sown before the winter sets in.  Our spinach keeps sprouting no matter how often I cut it.  I love that plant.  Honestly.  One of my favourites.  Also, the parsley seems to be loving the cool spell we've been having.  I've had to face the jungle and given both pots a good trim several times.  Peppers are popping off the vine pretty regularly.  Tomatoes are slow, but every couple of days, a kid will wander outside and harvest a reddened globe.  It's a slow, satisfying harvest.  Even if we don't make pots of salsa, sauce, diced or crushed or roasted tomatoes.  We are beginning.  That is enough for me.  

We went to the library this week to finish off the last summer reading club visit.  If I've never said it, I'll say it now: my kids love the library.  I love the library.  Anyhow, we took out a book which I was a little apprehensive about initially.  It's called "The Day Louis Got Eaten" by John Fardell.  It's not classic lit or anything profound, but I wasn't sure how they would take the plot.  (Basically, a boy gets eaten by a fictional "Gulper" who gets eaten by something else, who gets eaten by something else, etc and his sister goes after him to save him.)  Can I just say that my kids LOVE this book.  They've memorized it.  They ask for us to read it to them every day, multiple times.  It's hilarious to them in some weird way.  And here I was afraid they'd be scared.  Anyone else have an experience like this?  It's my first.  

On Friday we are off to Michigan for a last family trip to Dormition before school starts.  I think this is fast becoming tradition in our family.  Soak up quiet beauty in prayer and meditation, calm the soul so tossed about, refocus.  They seem to come naturally at this time.  As if a timer goes off in our heads: "Ah yes, time to dust out the cobwebs, nourish the soul and prepare for Fall."  

Well, I have one more day to pack and a to-do list the size of my washing machine.  Which, incidentally has been running smoothly and regularly for the past few days.  (In my house, no laundry = death.)  I would love to get my house cleaned before leaving, but that might be biting off more than I can chew.  We'll see.  Loving this summer and hope you are too!

PS - My kids like to take turns experiment with the camera when I let them.  Sometimes we get some weird photos.  Like this one.  My son took this shot.  (Gotta love that dear-caught-in-the-headlights expression.) 

20 August 2014

Art Attack

This is my very first weekly art attack post!  :)  

I've decided, rather ambitiously, to start a regular weekly post.  It will feature my artwork.  A rather loose definition, but purposely done.  It might be a traditional drawing, it might be food art.  Whatever.  The purpose is to motivate myself to pick up my pencil (or brush or whatever-other-tool) more often.  I am not a trained artist, but I love creating art.  For me, the process is more precious than the product.  (Ah, alliterations...)  

So.  I am choosing to swallow my pride and insecurities and share a page of my sketchbook each week.  Maybe someone else, coming across this post, will be inspired by simple mediocrity to embrace their own inner artist!   

Won't you join me?

A quick pencil and ink drawing of our (small!) condo living room.

18 August 2014

In the garden and around the house

There is something special about being able to go out to my "garden" in the mornings and pick what I need for the day's cooking.  I feel joyful, wealthy, and somehow connected to God in a profound way - studying His handiwork.   It's really a priceless feeling.  

Today my nieces are over (we had a sleepover!) and we made kefta.  So I needed parsley.  Thankfully my parsley patch was in need of a good haircut.  I was only too happy to oblige.  Yesterday we make carrot cake cupcakes.  Mini cupcakes.  They were delicious.  

As an aside, I love making things in bite-sized pieces.  Then I don't feel so bad when I eat 3 or 4!  (That's only like one big cupcake, right?!)  I gotta work on my self-control.  

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get out the pencils and do some drawing.  A little change of pace from the constant kitchen work.  I think the kids will enjoy it too.  It's been my experience anyhow that when I sit down and draw, they rather suddenly wish to do the same.  And so we usually sit together - at least for some of the time.  It's a perfect arrangement.

Hoping your day is cheery!